From Florida to Vegas: Jake Lucas ’25In one busy week, Lucas Traveled with Varsity Tennis and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra
Posted on February 26th, 2024 by

Jake Lucas ’25 stays busy on campus, taking full advantage of the Gustavus liberal arts experience. The Public Accounting major and Music minor is a varsity tennis and a French horn player with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra.

When both groups planned out-of-state trips, Lucas found a way to go with both.

To opposite sides of the country. In the same week.

Here’s a  glimpse into Lucas’s time on the road with the Gustavus Men’s Tennis team in Florida and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra in Las Vegas over Touring Week 2024.

Saturday, January 27 — Lucas departs with the Gustavus Men’s Tennis team for Florida
“It was a little nerve wracking,” says Lucas, “having to pack for two trips, having to be 100 percent locked into tennis, but also be ready for the next step.”

The tennis team’s annual trip to Florida consists of a series of challenging exhibition matches against teams outside of Division III. Plus, the team gets an early chance to play outdoor tennis.

“Our postseason is all designed to be outside,” says head coach Tommy Valentini ’02. “The more we can train in that environment earlier in the year the better.”

Monday, January 29 — Lucas and the team begin their exhibition matches in Florida.
11 a.m. EST —Lucas and other members of the team play singles against Southeastern University, a Division I school, and lose.

“Gustavus sets up some really tough matches in Florida because they want to challenge us to prepare us for the spring season,” says Lucas.

4 p.m. EST —The team plays Florida Southern, a Division II school. The team loses, although this time there were some close ones, Lucas says. “It’s just fun playing on a court right next to a teammate. “Tennis is an individual sport, but Gustavus makes it a team. If I’m playing next to a teammate, we’re always hyping each other up, and we’re encouraging each other to play well.”

Tuesday, January 30 —The team enjoys some warm-weather downtime
After morning practice, the team goes mini-golfing, then out for a seafood dinner. Lucas says one of the highlights of the trip was getting to know members of the team he didn’t know well. “It was really good to build relationships with them, hanging out, playing games, talking, and watching movies,” he says.

That Night—the transition begins
Knowing that he would have to fly out the next day, Lucas prepares that night. “I made sure I had everything packed, I had everything laid out, so I didn’t have to think about anything the next day.”

Wednesday, January 31—A match, an Uber, and a flight.
2:30 p.m. EST — the team arrives to prepare for their matches of the day.

Before every match, Coach Valentini talks the team through a breathing exercise. “Throughout this breathing exercise we do, we lay on the ground and he just runs us through it. If your mind starts to wander, just think back to your breathing, think back to the present moment, and that really helps me center myself before matches,” says Lucas.

3:30 p.m. EST — Gustavus plays matches against Warner University, a Division I school.
Lucas plays in a doubles match, which they once again lost.

Though he was focused during play, “after the match, my mind was wandering a little bit,” Lucas says. “‘Am I going to miss my flight?’ type of stuff.”

5:45 p.m. EST — Lucas catches an Uber to the airport.
He leaves before the team is finished with singles matches. “I was told the Orlando TSA was pretty rough, and then the TSA took me like five minutes to get through,” he says.

8 p.m. EST — Lucas’s flight departs Orlando International Airport en route to Las Vegas
It’s a five and a half hour flight to join his fellow musicians in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra for the second half of their tour.

Thursday, February 1
1 a.m. PT — Lucas lands in Las Vegas.
“As soon as I walked out of the airplane, I just saw rainbows and slot machines and all of this crazy Vegas stuff,” he says. Music Tours Manager Coleden Wedge ’20 picks Lucas up from the airport and brings him to the hotel.

2 a.m. PT —  Lucas arrives at the hotel and goes to sleep.

4 p.m. PT — Gustavus Wind Orchestra plays a concert at Bonanza High School.
During the days, the Wind Orchestra works with high school bands. In the evenings, they play joint concerts.As one of seven french horn players in GWO, Lucas enjoys meeting with other french horn players at high schools where there is often only one horn player in the whole band. “There was this eleventh grader who is the only french horn, and it was cool to see the excitement in his eyes when he was able to listen to us perform and work with him a bit,” he says.

Friday, February 2
The Gustavus Wind Orchestra works with Cimarron High School during the day.
After their workshops, the band members explore Vegas.
Lucas says that exploring Vegas was one of his favorite parts of the trip.“I have three really good friends in the band, and we went around just exploring all the different lights and casinos, and we went to a comedy show. That was really fun,” he says.

Saturday, February 3
7 p.m. PT — the Gustavus Wind Orchestra performs at Community Lutheran Church.

Sunday, February 4
Lucas and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra fly home to Minnesota.

Back in Minnesota — Reflections on the liberal arts experience.
Back in Minnesota, Lucas returns to working on his public accounting internship. Lucas appreciates the work conductorJames Patrick Miller and Coach Valentini put in to make both trips happen for him. “That they would work so hard to be able to create this opportunity for me was just really cool to see and I definitely appreciate it,” he says. The fact that we don’t force students to choose one thing over another is truly vital to the existence of the liberal arts within what Gustavus is as a community,” says Conductor Miller.

Coach Valentini agrees that the whole trip is an amazing example of what Gustavus does as a liberal arts school. “I feel like we’re really intentional about our core values being woven into the entire Gustavus experience,” he says. “This has really been a joy to be a part of, and hats off to Jake for being willing and able to pull it off.”


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